Living Well with a Disability, a health promotion program for people with disabilities, was featured by the CDC in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) as an intervention to reduce health disparities experienced by people with disabilities. It was developed nearly 25 years ago by researchers at the University of Montana, Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural) and Kansas University Research and Training Center on Independent Living with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). The program focuses on the specific health self-management needs of people with disabilities by addressing and building skills to prevent and reduce secondary conditions.
Approximately 56.7 million people in the United States, 18.7 percent of the population, live with one or more communicative, mental or physical primary disabilities. Original Living Well research indicated that the most common secondary conditions reported by adults with disabilities included problems like weight management and chronic pain. Typically, these conditions are responsive to common health education content like good nutrition and physical activity, but health promotion programs often are not developed to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
Prior to Living Well research, strategies for effectively delivering health promotion content to people with disabilities were largely unknown. In response to this gap, RTC: Rural used community-based participatory research methods to design and evaluate an intervention for people with mobility impairments, using the contextual and experiential knowledge of consumers and disability stakeholders. The curriculum developed as a result of this research is geared toward helping participants achieve early success in setting and meeting quality of life goals in order to build confidence and importance for making behavior changes that build skills for health self-management.
The Rural Institute and RTC: Rural are honored to have Living Well with a Disability featured as a CDC-sponsored intervention to address health disparities experienced by people with disabilities. For more information visit www.livingandworkingwell.org